Suzi's Blog

Dinner Party Menu

If you need a menu and recipes for an elegant dinner party, then these recent posts will give you a terrific base. Posted last week, these recipes are tested, tasteful, and ready for your next special evening. Here you’ll find terrific appetizers, a sensational risotto, breaded pork chops, and a beautiful strawberry cake.

And, there’s a side benefit to this menu. You can make it by candlelight. Suzen made the cake and I made the whipped cream in the early afternoon. Thank God, because at 5PM, we lost power with our guests set to arrive at 6:30. We broke out candles. We used the remaining daylight to get ingredients and utensils organized. In our kitchen equipped with gas burners, we anticipated a long evening and searched out the matches. And, rather than keep the pork chops warm in a oven we could not start, I fired up the barbeque.

The power did not come back on. We cooked this meal by candlelight. We stirred risotto in deep shadows, carefully tipping our 10-candle candelabra around to see when the turkey stock had been absorbed. We toasted the crostini on the inside grill and spread the horseradish cream quite evenly by flashlight.

We had just served dessert when the power was restored and lights came on. By unanimous consent, we turned off the lights and finished our strawberry cake by flickering candlelight.

I hope you enjoy some or all of this first class meal. Look for each item here on our blog. They were all posted in the week of May 10, 2010.

  • Afternoon Delight Champagne Punch
  • Roasted Olive Appetizers
  • Suzen’s Duck Breast Crostini
  • Risotto with Smoked Salmon and Mascarpone
  • Strawberry and White Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Suzen’s Duck Breast Crostini

Yesterday I suggested an intriguing appetizer: roasted olives with herbs, orange zest, and vinegars. You can’t start a dinner party with just one appetizer and finding something to complement those roasted olives requires some imagination.

Suzen has imagination. Here’s a delightful duck breast recipe that makes a super appetizer. It’s almost a mini-meal in its own right. Your guests will love the mixture of duck, horseradish cream, and figs in a balsamic reduction. This spectrum of flavors is actually easily to assemble and will be a dish you’ll truly relish.

A word about the ingredients. The horseradish cream should be mild. You can buy horseradish cream in a good supermarket. I suggest you taste it beforehand and, if you desire, adjust the taste by diluting it with a little sour cream. You want a warm taste, but not too deep a horseradish flavor so that the duck, which should be the dominant tone, is overwhelmed.

The figs in balsamic glaze can be found in good high end gourmet shops or super supermarkets. When you see it, buy two. You’ll quickly love the flavor and begin using it to adorn many of you dishes. Just a dab will do it.

Suzen’s Duck Breast Crostini

Yield: 12 crostini to serve 6 people


Half loaf of sourdough bread
½ cup of olive oil
1 cooked duck breast
½ cup of horseradish cream + sour cream as needed
¼ cup fig puree in balsamic reduction


Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Slice the bread into a dozen pieces, each thin and about 2” by 3”, or enough for two bites. Brush the bread lightly with olive oil and toast in the oven until just browning.

Allow the bread slices to cool.

Slice the duck thinly into slivers, enough for 2-3 pieces for each piece of toast. Top the toast with a teaspoon of horseradish cream and smooth over the toast. Place duck on each piece of toast. Finish with a dab of fig on the top of the duck. If you want to add color, a sprig of herb can adorn the top.

Arrange the toast slices on a serving plate and let your guests enjoy. Accompany with an intense red wine.

Source: Suzen O’Rourke